After visiting the boulengerie for probably the final time, we set off for Versailles. It had been recommended to us by two people who both said it was not to be missed, and they were quite right!
We got on a double decker train (I know its terribly touristy to be excited by this, like people finding London buses exciting; making the everyday functional item confusingly thrilling, but there you are) and headed out of the city towards the Palace of Versailles. I was particularly pleased not to be alone on today's adventure and sat on the train with a smile on my face at the prospect of having someone to talk to and compare hyperbole about the grandeur that awaited us. While we sat, admiring the sprawling suburbs of Paris, we were joined by a band of accordion players and, for a few stops, had a film-like Parisian soundtrack reminiscent of Amelie.
We alighted at Versailles Rive Gauche and followed the tourist information people's helpful directions, turned right then left and found ourselves looking at the 'Glory of the Sun King's Reign', as the guide book would have it. And glorious it is indeed, with a gloriously long queue alongside it. We had discovered that this was another one of the attractions that we could enter for free but, unfortunately, this did not mean that we didn't have to queue to get in. So, instead of joining the long, snaking queue, we went instead for the gardens.
The gardens were designed and laid out by Andre le Notre during the reign of Loius XIV and comprise of grottoes, lawns and, most spectacularly, fountains. On weekends, such as this one, the fountains of the gardens are given life and set to music piped in through an impressive sound system that makes you feel as if you have an orchestra narrating your visit. Some may find this a bit much but we thought it was fantastic, enjoying traversing the many groves and grottoes with music at our heels. The idea was that the fountains appeared to be dancing to the music and in one instance they did just that.
The Mirror Fountain, commissioned by Loius the XIV in 1702, is truly spectacular. Consisting of jets, spinners and sprinklers it comes alive every ten minutes to perform a dance to a piece of music. It is beautifully cued and each part of the fountain responds so well to the individual instruments of the piece that the two could actually be dancing. We sat enthralled through two sets before moving on.
We also explored the Grande and the Petit Trianons, including the 'Hamlet of the Queen' built by Marie Antoinette and containing a farm, mill and a lake full of very large, attention seeking fish. We were a bit suspicious of them as they flocked to the bridges and sides of the pond and acting very un-fishlike indeed, gasping for air (not a good idea if you're a fish...) and forming huge groups.
We eventually went into the palace itself and walked through the famous hall of mirrors and viewed the King and Queens bedrooms. There were, sadly, too many people inside making the rooms stuffy and unpleasant so once we'd seen the parts we wanted to, we slipped out into the open air and headed for home.
We are now about to enjoy our last Parisian meal consisting of savory and sweet Tartes from the same Maison des Tartes as before with a glass of red wine. Back on the coach tomorrow (or the train in some peoples cases...). I'm already planning on some French cooking on Monday night...